Bucharest is many things. But one thing it is certainly not is Budapest. That's because Bucharest is the capital of Romania, and Budapest is the capital of neighboring Hungary. You could easily confuse them, of course, which is why Romanian candy bar ROM is out to end the confusion once and for all—with a new ad campaign from McCann Bucharest and MRM Romania.
As illustrated in the video below, it was all Michael Jackson's fault. In 1990, he started the trend by shouting "Hello, Budapest!" at his concert in Bucharest. In 1995, Iron Maiden did the same thing. They were followed by Morcheeba, Lenny Kravitz, Metallica, Ozzy Osbourne, Whitesnake and others. The problem reached comic proportions in 2012, when when 400 Athletic Bilbao fans missed the Europa League final after mistakenly flying to Budapest instead of Bucharest.
Bucharest didn't get mad, but now it wants to get even. Billboards have gone up in both cities, reminding everyone of which is which. A browser add-on adds the words "Not Budapest" next to every instance of "Bucharest." And fans on the ROM website are encouraged to share their Bucharest/Budapest stories and tag them #BucharestNotBudapest.
"It's a confusion that upsets us all, and if there is a brand that can take legitimate action towards this error, that brand is definitely ROM, because it's Romanian, authentic, daring and because it has BUCHAREST written on it," says client marketing manager Gabriela Munteanu. (You may remember ROM from the 2011 Cannes Lions festival, when it won two Grand Prix for a campaign that pretended to Americanize the candy bar, much to the horror of its fans.)
We will have an early indication of whether the Bucharest/Budapest campaign is working, as Iron Maiden returns to Bucharest on Wednesday as part of their current world tour.